‘OPS’ never stops: Ramstein mission–ready

by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron, 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein Air Base, lands on a runway during exercise Contested Forge on Grostenquin Air Base, France, Dec. 4, 2018. Contested Forge is an annual exercise that tests the 435th Contingency Response Group’s ability to build a forward operating base and conduct airfield operations in an austere environment, friendly or hostile. — Photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore

The holidays are usually a time when many people take a week or two away from work and enjoy the season with family and friends.

But there are those out there who do not care for “peace and goodwill.” These people intend to create terror and drive away the festive cheer.

That’s why this past holiday season, members of the U.S. military kept watch — ready to respond to anything, anytime, and anywhere.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Mike Thomas, 37th Airlift Squadron central scheduler, reviews his unit’s flight schedule on Ramstein Air Base, Dec. 19, 2018. The 37th AS always has a team on standby to respond to missions any time of the year. — Photo by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua

“The enemy doesn’t take the day off — and neither do we,” said Master Sgt. Gregory Flores, 37th Airlift Squadron operations superintendent. “This is why we are ready to act on a moment’s notice to respond to any threat regardless of the time of the year. The mission never stops even during the holidays.”

As a member of the 37th AS, Flores and fellow Airmen conduct a massive mission. His squadron is located at Ramstein Air Base: the hub for U.S. airlift across several theaters of operation.

Flores considers his squadron’s airlift mission as a way to boost the morale and readiness of warfighters in deployed locations.

“It’s a way for us to help out individuals throughout the theater of operations who are executing the mission far away from their families,” he said. “We do everything we can to help them, whether it’s getting them the supplies or anything else they might need … even holiday greeting cards. It’s not ideal to be away from family and friends, but it’s part of the mission,” Flores added.

Capt. Mike Thomas, 37th AS central scheduler, said there is never a moment when a team is not on alert.

During the alert period, Airmen must be able to receive calls at all times, have their equipment ready, and be prepared to rapidly deploy upon notice of a mission.

“We have crewmembers ready to go and launch at all times,” he said. “Our readiness is what makes our capability unrivaled in the world. It gives commanders the ability to send personnel, cargo, and aircraft to certain locations in a heartbeat. They can count on us because we’re ready to go anytime.”

Thomas added that while it is not desirable to have to work during the holidays, there is no room for complacency in an era of complex and ever-evolving conflicts.

He also assured people everywhere that the men and women of the 37th AS are always ready to fly no matter what season it is.

“Everyone in this squadron has a sense of duty,” Thomas said. “Don’t worry about anything, because we’ll be out here working.”